Home » Australia News Live Update: Nation To Pass 80% Vaccination Target Today, PM Says; WA Reopening Roadmap Revealed; Melbourne Cup Covid Scare

Australia News Live Update: Nation To Pass 80% Vaccination Target Today, PM Says; WA Reopening Roadmap Revealed; Melbourne Cup Covid Scare

05:13

Two positive cases at the Melbourne Cup this week will not stop races at Flemington Racecourse on Saturday.

In a statement, Victoria Racing Club said the two cases were a contractor working at the course and a racegoer, and that both were fully vaccinated and unlinked.

The contractor who tested positive worked two full days in the Arbour in the purple zone on the ground floor of the Club Stand. The Department of Health has advised the VRC that patrons and staff who attended the Arbour on Cup Day are considered at low risk.

The patron who tested positive attended the deck bar within the green zone on Cup Day and the Department of Health is in direct contact with the patron and their two social close contacts, who are also fully vaccinated.

Patrons who attended the deck bar on Cup Day are being contacted directly via SMS by the VRC and staff have also been contacted. Patrons are advised to monitor their health and get tested if they develop any symptoms.

The two venues have been deep cleaned and will be ready for safe operation for Stakes Day on Saturday.

04:49

AAP is reporting that a maximum-security prison in regional New South Wales had to be emptied of inmates after it fell victim to a “horrendous” mice plague.

Rodents have been devouring crops and cutting a destructive swathe through properties in the state’s west and south since spring 2020.

In June, they caused all 420 inmates at Wellington Correctional Centre in the state’s west to be sent to other facilities after they damaged the building, a budget estimates hearing heard on Friday.

Prison staff were working in buildings where cavities and ceilings were full of dead mice, Acting Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Kevin Corcoran told the hearing.

“I got gravely ill after attending there and I know others did too,” Mr Corcoran told MPs.

There were problems with mites and faeces falling down when he toured the site, he said.

“Some of the buildings I went into were just horrendous. I mean, the smell,” he said.

“You’re almost throwing up just going into the places people were living. It’s just completely unacceptable.”

Wellington Correctional Centre in NSW has been hit by a mouse plague. Photograph: Pixel-shot/Alamy Stock Photo

The mice, which first arrived at year ago, chewed through internal wiring and ceiling panels.

Mr Corcoran said the problems were most acute in the staff areas, and the situation “wasn’t so bad” in the inmates’ cells.

Nevertheless, Corrective Services Minister Anthony Roberts said removing the inmates and most of the staff was the best solution so remediation works could be done urgently.Asked how he could lose a maximum-security prison to mice, Mr Roberts replied: “We build prisons to keep people in.”

Updated

04:35

Medical device manufacturer Johnson and Johnson has failed in its bid to overturn a landmark ruling about harm caused by pelvic mesh implants, AAP reports.

The high court on Friday refused special leave to appeal a ruling finding the company acted negligently and concealed the true extent of complications from the pelvic implants.

It means Johnson and Johnson remains liable for millions of dollars in compensation to Australian women.

The federal court in 2020 awarded three lead litigants a combined $2.6m in damages over the implants manufactured by Johnson and Johnson subsidiary Ethicon.

The court was told the women’s surgeons weren’t warned about or aware of the extent of risks from the devices including severe chronic pain.

Johnson and Johnson earlier this year failed in its appeal of the original 2019 finding before heading to Australia’s highest court.

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04:22

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has called for fully vaccinated travellers to no longer face Covid tests “at every turn”.

Joyce was speaking at the airline’s annual general meeting and made comments on measures still in place for international arrivals, who must submit a negative test in the first 24 hours of arrival, and again after seven days.

Joyce said the measures were frustrating for travellers, who would “reasonably expect to move freely and easily”.

Hopefully these conditions, particularly PCR testing at every turn, is dispensed with as Australia becomes more confident living with Covid.

Surely that’s something we’ve all earned.

A passenger checks in at the Qantas departures terminal at Sydney airport today. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

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03:56

WA border restrictions criticised by Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch have released a statement, urging the Western Australian government to ease border restrictions and allow people who are double vaccinated into the state.

The international human rights group says the restrictions are “no longer proportionate”:

By this stage of the pandemic, and with widespread access to vaccines, there should be measures in place to allow families to safely travel to Western Australia and reunite with their loved ones.

It is no longer proportionate for the West Australian government to make it so difficult for compassionate cases to enter the state.

If individuals are double vaccinated and are willing to undergo quarantine, they should not be denied entry to WA.

Human Rights Watch is calling on the McGowan government to prioritise compassionate cases and family reunifications, and allow these cases to enter.

Governments can restrict people’s movement for compelling public health purposes, but any restrictions on these rights should be strictly necessary and proportionate.

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03:32

ABC signs multi-million dollar content deal with Google

A multi-million dollar deal signed by Google for ABC content under the news media bargaining code will create dozens of ABC jobs in regional and rural areas, ABC managing director David Anderson says.

I am pleased to announce today that we have just finalised a multi-year agreement that will see ABC content on the Google News Showcase.

In a speech at Charles Sturt University’s regional media summit on Friday, Anderson said the ABC is also negotiating a deal with Facebook.

Negotiations with Facebook are well advanced and I am hopeful that we will be able to finalise an agreement with that platform by the end of the month.

These agreements will provide a significant boost to our services in regional Australia.

When he announced the draft code, the chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Rod Sims, said the ABC and SBS were excluded because they were taxpayer-funded but Labor and the Greens pushed for the public broadcasters to be included.

While SBS has reached agreement under the code with Google, Facebook has refused to negotiate with either SBS or the Conversation, saying it had to draw the line somewhere.

The ABC’s headquarters in Ultimo, Sydney. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

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03:28

Police have seized cocaine and more than $250,000 in cash in their hunt to find fugitive Mostafa Baluch, who allegedly cut his ankle monitor after being granted bail for a drug importation charge, AAP reports.

NSW police Det Supt Rob Critchlow said two Sydney homes – one in Yagoona and another in Potts Hill – were raided on Thursday night.

“What we are finding as we chase this man to bring him back to justice is we are identifying a whole range of offences and a wider criminal group,” Critchlow said on Friday.

“The longer he is out the more pressure he is placing upon those he cares about including his family, his friends and his associates.”

Baluch, 33, was last seen on the night of 25 October on Sydney’s northern beaches.

Last month he was granted bail and released from custody, with strict bail conditions, after he was charged with a string of drug offences over a 900kg shipment of cocaine into Australia.

Police believe Baluch is “most likely” still in Sydney. “We are pretty sure we’re not far away,” Critchlow said. He said there were cars linked to Baluch at the properties.

Police seized more than $250,000 cash, about 200 grams of cocaine, 485 grams of an unknown substance, mobile phones, and an electronic money counter.

Police believe Mostafa Baluch (pictured) is ‘most likely’ still in Sydney. Photograph: AAP Image/Supplied by NSW Police

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03:18

So, the WA premier Mark McGowan has released a TikTok video that resembles a Bunnings ad, to encourage people to get vaccinated at particular Bunnings locations across the state.

It’s … something to behold really:

cam wilson, nft (@cameronwilson)

Bizarre. I get that you can get a jab at Bunnings but just weird content pic.twitter.com/2FGEKBeQSF

November 5, 2021

Updated

02:58

The Australian Medical Association’s president Dr Omar Khorshid was on the ABC earlier, discussing hospital wait times.

The group has released a report card that looks into public hospitals, and found that despite a drop in patient numbers due to the lockdowns, public hospitals still struggled to see people on time.

Khorshid said the pandemic had revealed the limited surge capacity public hospitals currently have:

Last year, when of course we were all in lockdown, the demand on emergency departments really plummeted and of course elective surgery was paused and yet the performance of hospitals in some states barely improved and in others it actually continued to decline.

When it comes to emergency departments, it is ACT at the bottom of the pile. And the sad thing about this report is it really does show, as it does each year, how much it matters where you live in Australia as to what access to public hospitals you have. When it comes to elective surgery waiting lists, it is Tasmania that has the worst performance in our report card this year.

We would like to see the long-term trends reversed. Rather than continuing with a way of funding public hospitals, it really only looks at throughput and where the states pick up the bulk of the tab or just over half the commonwealth a little bit less than half.

It’s a system that doesn’t actually in any way encourage state governments to build new hospitals, to employ new nurses and new doctors in order to meet that demand.

So we would like to see the funding package actually change in its nature so that it does encourage investment. And also reward hospitals for better performance.

AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Updated

02:33

NT records another Covid case

The Northern Territory has recorded its second case in two days, after a mystery case emerged in Katherine yesterday.

Chief minister Michael Gunner held a press conference earlier today, telling reporters that a household contact of the man who tested positive yesterday had also tested positive.

The initial case was a man who works at Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal, outside Katherine. He and his close contacts have been transferred to the Howard Springs quarantine facility.

Gunner urged people to get tested and vaccinated as soon as possible.

Updated

02:25

Details of Bert Newton’s state funeral announced

Australian entertainment icon Bert Newton will be farewelled by hundreds of family and friends at a state funeral in Melbourne next week, AAP reports.

The man affectionately known as “Moonface” died aged 83 on October 30 at a private Melbourne clinic after his leg was amputated in May due to a life-threatening infection.

The Victorian government has confirmed the already-announced state funeral for the four-time gold Logie award-winning entertainer will be held at East Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral on November 12.

“A fixture of Australian television, Bert brought his wit and energy into our homes over many decades,” the Department of Premier and Cabinet said on Friday.

“He was an entertainer in every sense of the word and this send-off will honour his legacy.

“Family, friends and colleagues will be able to attend the state funeral service to celebrate Bert’s life and reflect on his contribution to the entertainment industry, numerous charities and the state of Victoria.”

Members of the public won’t be able to attend due to Covid-safe requirements, but can watch the service via an online stream.

Newton’s state funeral will be held at St Patrick’s Cathedral next Friday. Photograph: Joe Castro/AAP

Melbourne-born Newton started in the radio business aged 12 and scaled the heights of Australian entertainment on stage and screen.

His TV credits included In Melbourne Tonight, The Graham Kennedy Show, The Don Lane Show, Good Morning Australia, New Faces, Bert’s Family Feud and 20 to 1.

On stage he played roles in the musicals Wicked, Annie, Grease and as narrator in The Rocky Horror Show.

Newton is survived by Patti, his wife of more than 46 years, children Lauren and Matthew, and grandchildren.

Updated

02:23

And with that, the premier wraps up the presser, but took one final question: How did he feel in Carnarvon yesterday?

It was a very uplifting experience.

I really like the police officers. They were great people. The commissioner ushered me into a room and there was about 60 men and women in suits, a good-looking group of people, he then invited me to speak to them.

They did a wonderful job and everyone I spoke to was nice and had an underlying professionalism that you could feel, when I went to the house.

I met Cleo Smith and her family, they were just lovely, kind people … They were positive. And they were happy. Their daughter has been brought home. She was a happy little girl.

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